The orchard in back of the neighbor’s house
was once part of a larger concern,
with acreage that spread to the west and south,
since sold off, clear-cut, and burned.
The trees that remain still stand in rough rows,
though it’s years since one has been pruned;
their boughs are gnarled, and what little fruit grows
is spotted with blight or bug-ruined.
These were apple trees once in halcyon days,
when each tree stood full with esteem;
they bled the rich earth and blossomed each May
in a blizzard of white thick as cream.
I walk these rows now in summer’s soft dusk
between trees listless and lank,
and lament that trunks once thick are mere husks,
decrepit, dying and rank.
Such is how death is for both man and tree
in this grove on a hillock of earth--
we seek solace from past fecundity,
permanence in temporal rebirth.
If life has purpose, maybe it is found
in the example of these old trees;
they stand against time as the world wheels round
to still flower and perfume the breeze.
© by Mike Orlock.
Used with the author’s permission.
Mike Orlock is a retired high school English and American History teacher who splits time between the Chicago suburbs and a vacation home in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. He has been married for 40 years to his high school sweetheart and inspiration, Liz, and greatly enjoys being grandfather to four beautiful little girls. Mike's short stories, poems, and reviews have appeared in a variety of publications and he was a Jade Ring winner in last year's annual contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Writers Association.
Your poem moves from orchard to walking and on to death and purpose of life and back to orchard. Beautiful poem.
Posted 09/04/2015 08:30 PM
"If life has purpose" is a profound question and your poem offers a beautiful look at an answer to be considered...
I will be reading this poem again, Mike.
Posted 09/03/2015 04:58 PM
Posted 09/03/2015 11:27 AM
Your poem reminds me of my grandmothers house, once a bustling farm. There was only one ancient apple tree left, when I was a child. My grandmother faithfully took care. When she passed away, one day when I was walking through the field saying goodbye to the place, I noticed the apple tree had fallen.
Now a sterile concrete garage sits on the spot.
Posted 09/03/2015 11:03 AM
Skillfully use of both rhyme and alliteration. Well done!
Posted 09/03/2015 10:39 AM
Posted 09/03/2015 09:55 AM
I am proud to say I am Mike's mother-in-law and have truly enjoyed reading his creations over the years. He is a super guy, husband and dad. Keep up the wondeful work.
Posted 09/03/2015 09:39 AM
Layers of beauty and layers of meaning in this poem.
A lovely look at death for "both man and tree."
Then the turn to the eternal question "if life has purpose," thanks Mike, this one must be read again
Posted 09/03/2015 08:19 AM
This one takes me back to being a young wife in a house on a lot with part of the original farm orchard at the road-end of our drive, and learning to prune so there was plenty of room for birds to fly through, the bounty of apples each fall.
That the poem is so beautifully constructed almost disappears in what it evokes. . . which has got to be testimony to the poet's deepest sensibilities.
Posted 09/03/2015 05:33 AM